One health graduate formed alumni bonds over a cup of tea

woman pouring tea

Naturopath and Herbalist Lisa Hilbert is an accidental entrepreneur. The SSNT at Torrens University graduate invented Tea Tonic in her final year of study, by chance.

Creating healthy communities forms an important strand in the DNA of Torrens University Australia. We stand on the shoulders of giants such as Southern School of Natural Therapies (SSNT) and Janson Newman Institute (JNI), and creating strong communities is part of their legacy.

Not just that - for generations our Health faculty alumni have shared their passion for wellbeing and healing in Australia and on the global stage.

Meet one of our star alumni

Naturopath and Herbalist Lisa Hilbert is an accidental entrepreneur. The SSNT at Torrens University graduate invented Tea Tonic in her final year of study, by chance – it’s now stocked in cupboards all over Australia.

It may be 22 years since Ms Hilbert was a student at SSNT, yet she recalls with zeal how learning about herbs changed the course of her life. She says she discovered that her eczema riddled skin could be healed using a concoction of five herbs, brewed into a tea. For someone who had struggled with childhood asthma and associated eczema, this was a game-changer.

Embracing the SSNT mantra of ‘treating the body from the inside out,’ the trailblazer later set out to rejuvenate, relax and nourish others by creating a series of healing teas to sell. The first tea to launch was Complexion Tea – a signature blend of cleansing herbs that support glowing skin. It was made of red clover, nettle, dandelion leaf, calendula and burdock.

Back in 1998, tea was “very unfashionable” according to Ms Hilbert, which meant she wasn’t an overnight success. But what she had was an important ingredient that kept her on her chosen path – passion. Following her naturopathic instinct to use ‘food as medicine,’ Ms Hilbert’s first customers were her friends. Then, she was off to the Sunday markets to share her wares with tourists. Nowadays, Ms Hilbert is reaping the rewards of building a global company that she grew organically.

Females to the front

When Ms Hilbert started Tea Tonic, she says she didn’t have many female role models to look to in the tea industry. But what she did have on her side was a foundation at Torrens University where female leadership is celebrated. As President and CEO Linda Brown points out Torrens University has made a real commitment to diversity and inclusion that ensures female alumni can break through all sorts of ceilings – glass, bamboo and concrete.

Ms Hilbert’s vision was to create “teas that would improve health, that people would genuinely love to drink.” That’s meant everything from “coconut tea that puts you in a lively mood” to apple tea with real pieces of fruit. And she credits her ability to fulfill that dream to her experience of studying at Torrens University Australia.

“I have an herbal tea business, but I can read scientific studies into ingredients and how they work, and I can understand it, because of my education.”

When the industry leader reflects on her achievements today, she credits her past lecturers for her continued passion.

“There are so many applications of using herbs…our lecturers had practical experience and could speak from true life.”

While Ms Hilbert has helped Australians sip through countless cups of health-supporting tea, she’s surrounded by other successful female alumni who’ve built stellar careers. One such person is Nat Cook, Director of Industry, Innovation and Employability at Torrens University who’s dedicated her life to the ancient practice of naturopathy.

History in the making

Our Health faculty offers opportunities to make a positive difference in people’s lives – it includes SSNT, the JNI and our Nursing School.

In 2021, SSNT chalks up 60 years. So much has changed in that time, but what remains constant is the school’s commitment to overcoming global health challenges through natural therapy. Pioneered by Alfred Jacka in 1961, SSNT will carry on its legacy as a school for real-world clinical experience well into the future.

Are you are interested in learning more about Lisa Hilbert’s story, her experience studying Naturopathy at Torrens University and her advice to aspiring naturopaths? Watch her interview with us.

Check our Natural Therapy Courses to learn more
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